Michael Gorra (ed.), The Portable Conrad (Penguin, $18 paper). I blush to admit that I failed to notice when the much-loved old Viking Portable Conrad edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel in 1947 was replaced two years ago by this updated and expanded edition, which covers much of the same ground but adds The Secret Agent. Not only is that a highly significant improvement, but Michael Gorra’s introductory essay might just be the best short discussion of Conrad and his work ever to see print. Among other good things, it strikes a perfect balance between aesthetic and political considerations, doing full justice to both sides of the coin (Gorra’s comparison of Conrad to Cézanne was so startlingly apposite that it took my breath away). Even if everything in this seven-hundred-page volume is already on your bookshelf–as well it should be–you owe it to yourself to read Gorra’s essay, which can also be found here. It’s a model of lucidity and concision (TT).
Archives for April 30, 2009
The Broadway season ends today, thus freeing me to head for the hills. This afternoon I hop a plane for Chicago, there to begin my theater-related summer travels. If you’re planning to see TimeLine Theater Company’s production of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys on Friday or Remy Bumppo’s revival of Harold Pinter’s Old Times on Saturday, look for me in the audience. I’ll be there, assuming I don’t catch swine flu en route.
In between shows I plan to hang out with Our Girl, chow down on some encased meats at Hot Doug’s, and stop by the Buckminster Fuller retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Otherwise I’m going to do as little as possible. I’m staying in a nice hotel, I haven’t finished correcting the page proofs for Pops, and I don’t feel any pressing need to cram my waking hours with hyperactivity.
More as (or, more likely, after) it happens.
P.S. My drugstore on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is out of hand sanitizer and face masks. It’ll be interesting to see how crowded–or not–my flight is.
Here’s my list of recommended Broadway, off-Broadway, and out-of-town shows, updated weekly. In all cases, I gave these shows favorable reviews (if sometimes qualifiedly so) in The Wall Street Journal when they opened. For more information, click on the title.
Warning: Broadway shows marked with an asterisk were sold out, or nearly so, last week.
• Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (comedy, G, suitable for bright children, reviewed here)
• August: Osage County (drama, R, adult subject matter, reviewed here)
• Avenue Q (musical, R, adult subject matter and one show-stopping scene of puppet-on-puppet sex, reviewed here)
• Exit the King * (disturbingly black comedy, PG-13, closes June 14, reviewed here)
• God of Carnage * (comedy, PG-13, closes July 19, reviewed here)
• Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (drama, PG-13, closes June 14, reviewed here)
• The Little Mermaid (musical, G, entirely suitable for children, reviewed here)
• Mary Stuart (drama, G, far too long and complicated for children, closes Aug. 16, reviewed here)
• The Norman Conquests (three related comedies, PG-13, comprehensively unsuitable for children, playing in repertory through July 25, reviewed here)
• South Pacific * (musical, G/PG-13, some sexual content, brilliantly staged but unsuitable for viewers acutely allergic to preachiness, reviewed here)
• The Fantasticks (musical, G, suitable for children capable of enjoying a love story, reviewed here)
• Our Town (drama, G, suitable for mature children, reviewed here)
• Ruined (drama, PG-13/R, sexual content and suggestions of extreme violence, extended through June 28, reviewed here)
“Shakespeare was the great one before us. His place was between God and despair.”
Eugène Ionesco (quoted in the International Herald Tribune, June 17, 1988)